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Chef Summit 2017 Wrapup

Amelia Aronsohn's profile picture Amelia Aronsohn on

Ohai Chefs, Amelia here!

This year the chef community summits had a major change, and DNSimple was along for the ride. I wanted to take a moment to go over all the amazing things that happened.

First and foremost as I said earlier, there was a change in how the summits were held. Instead of a US summit in Seattle and an EMEA one in London there were three summits: Seattle, New York, & London! The events were mere days apart, making for quite the whirlwind of events. Also the focus of the summits was a bit more tightened. Chef made the point to focus in on trying to use these as feedback and product driving gatherings. This isn't to say the Open Spaces format was deviated from though.

A lot of us were apprehensive about the new format and layout, but we were all excited to go!


Seattle is an amazing place and I look forward to the Summit here every year.

Before you head out to the summits I recommend you log into the chef community slack and find the channel for your summit you are attending. This will be the place to get updates and notes. However it's also a great place to find out what other events are going on around the Summit itself. After getting settled in and having dinner we were able to catch up with a lot of people going to the summit for some before bed camaraderie.

The summit was upon us the next day. Instead of two Open Spaces days there was only one. However the group was also much smaller than the last two summits. Even though the event was smaller and shorter than previous summits, quality was up. The day started with updates from all the major Chef projects and then we continued right into Open Spaces.

The first half of the day I spent talking a lot about secrets and security management with everyone and then even jumped into a few long conversations about documentation with several smaller groups. Security and Documentation are a strong theme you will hear a lot whenever you end up talking to me as I believe they are a core foundation of any strong product. The post lunch space I joined was "What's next in Chef". It was amazing to be apart of the process, to sit in the room as everyone chimed in and talked out everything they wanted to pull off for Chef 14, really getting to give such amazing feedback and talk out everything. There was a lot of great design decisions and a lot of insight into how cookbook development should look forward in the future.

One thing that I heard of a lot during that talk was something Adam Jacob said, and I have actually heard before from a few other community members; The golden trifecta: package, template, service. Technically these three things are all you need to install, configure, and run any service you need to. While the devil is in the details of how you install your packages, what configurations you need, and how you both start and keep running any services it's important to think about these three discreet steps and try to break them down when writing cookbooks. Also when you are making community cookbooks you should make sure to separate these as much as possible to make sure that as many different configurations can use your contribution. This is why the resource cookbook pattern has been prevailing over highly complex cookbooks with massive attribute lists. These most composable patterns also tend to be far easier to maintain for community cookbooks as well.

Speaking of cookbook development, a space I suggested wrapped up the day: cookbook quality. This is a huge sticking point to me as I feel that with the rapidly changing standards and best practices have left the supermarket a dangerous boneyard of cookbooks of various quality, patterns, and anti-patterns. We had an amazing conversation and was eventually even joined by Robb Kidd who talked about how the supermarket does have some cookbook quality metrics. We talked about how to surface these more, making them much more visible, and also what extra metrics would be useful.

After a super strong Open Spaces Day, the Hack Day came in just as fast. I started my day linking up with Robb and we went over adding the Supermarket quality metrics to the search page. We also added them to the initial cookbook page. Then we discussed how we would weight search results using these as well. This just lead into another conversation about moving metrics into some sort of weighted score and what else we could add. I opened an RFC for adding attribute counts to the metrics. We also discussed cookstyle, having custom resources, and lots of other ideas that didn't get a lot of traction right then.

After all this hacking I jumped in and helped a few other people, helping someone resign their commits, updating some chef docs, and helping someone with some serious git-fu. I know far far far too much about how git works. I ended my day helping look into some work Aaron was doing with the FreeBSD service in core. All in all quite a productive time.

While this is the end of my Seattle part of the story I'd be remiss not to call out the amazing time playing Artemus once again with the chef contributor crew, all co-ordinated and put together by Captain J.J.

New York (Anthony's Story)

Having a summit in New York made the trip for me a no-brainer. The turnout was relatively small, and included a significant number of chef employees, but that didn't stop it from being effective. My main takeaway was that the Chef community is remaining focused on the core Chef technology for server configuration management, application packaging, and compliance verification. The core technology remains an important part of DNSimple, as we depend heavily on using Chef for managing our infrastructure in a reliable fashion with a limited amount of focus time. We continue to investigate Habitat for managing consistent application deployment as well, although we are not ready to take it into production yet.

Day 1 was open spaces and I joined in on discussions about the future of test kitchen, how to educate new users and improve adoption, the future of chef, and finally diversity in the community. It's reassuring to know that Chef leaders are ensuring that they listen to the community and that the Chef organization is able to provide clear guidance on areas where Chef will not focus, which helps me make better decisions at DNSimple.

London (Amelia's Story, Part 2)

Getting to London is no trivial matter for me, but after 12 hours of flights and a couple missteps finding my train (but always minding the gap) I found myself in the middle of London ready to chef out. I spent a few days in London in advance to get my legs steady and also enjoy a bit of my first time in the UK. Mostly finding all the delicious food I could.

The London Summit is a bit different from the Seattle one in format. While it is still two days, the beginning of each day is presentations and keynotes, just like at a more traditional conference, and then there is Open Spaces at the second half. Any hack day activities are proposed and held as part of an Open Space. It was great to see all the speakers present how Chef and their technologies are driving the delivery of some of the biggest banks as well as media entertainment to trains in Germany! Aaron also had a presentation, talking about his experience growing in the Chef community. I also really loved the InSpec compliance demos. It was amazing to see how awesome this product has come along in tandem with Chef's Automate product. I look forward to implementing this more in our environment to help create even more visibility into the security and surface area of DNSimple.

For the Open Spaces I kicked off re-opening the topic of cookbook quality in London. The attendance and feedback of the space was just amazing. So many people contributed lots of good ideas and thoughts, which I have compiled here and plan on trying to shepherd adding more of these into the community marketplace so that more people can easily find qualities and standards for good community cookbook styles.

I also participated in the small FreeBSD space, unsurprisingly. While small we had a great talk about what it would take to get Habitat running on FreeBSD, which seems more or less like a very viable, albeit experimental, hack product. We then branched out to talk about what the FreeBSD community team really needs to do to help strengthen support and movement for it. We talked about dissolving the FreeBSD cookbook and moving all its final functions into core, then splitting out any unproven or untested functionality into their own specific cookbooks. We talked about doing a community team audit of the chef-core code for FreeBSD support and spending the time to refactor it to modern style both code wise and also dropping a lot of legacy support for the 14 release. We opened up a #freebsd channel in the chef community slack to help raise more awareness that we are here and help focus questions where they may ne needed. There were also talks about tapping the Foundation to help raise awareness of Chef's FreeBSD support.

During this summit I also got a chance to jump up on stage (almost with no prep time) and talk about DNSimple to everyone. I even got to show off my one slide deck with our logo I managed to slap together during the preceding talk. While I fumbled my way though this with no notes I did manage to remind everyone of our chef cookbook and libraries for many different languages that allow you to provision all your DNS records, and also download all of your certificates pragmatically during provision or with your app. While that seems like I'm just throwing in a random bump into this blog post I got a lot of feedback afterwards from some customers present who were unaware of all of these developer and Chef resources we had available. I also talked about how we are looking for another Chef in the EMIA/Asia Pacific area, and if you are curious for working for DNSimple as an operator or otherwise you should check out our jobs page!

The London Summit sure was different than the Seattle one but it was so incredibly valuable to get to talk to everyone and get so much amazing feedback on the thing I came to talk about as well as DNSimple.


It really was a whirlwind of a trip going to so many summits. I can't emphasize so much how amazing the Chef community and company is all around the world. It's amazing to not just talk about the product direction and actively contribute to it and help making a pivotal piece of our infrastructure better.

I really feel that the community summits are an unrivaled value to those who use Chef on a daily basis and want to contribute to its quality and direction

As a reminder; If you are an awesome part of the chef community you should check out our jobs page for more information on available jobs.

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Amelia Aronsohn's profile picture

Amelia Aronsohn

Kaizen junkie, list enthusiast, automation obsessor, unrepentant otaku, constantly impressed by how amazing technology is.

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